Repentance…Good or Bad?

Repentance. A godly concept that can be abused in so many ways. Some people use quick expressions of remorse as a way to demand forgiveness from those they offend. Some use the concept of godly repentance as their own personal measuring stick to determine who is really saved and who isn’t. When repentance is used as a weapon, it almost always drives people away from God and destroys earthly relationships. However, that doesn’t excuse us from exhibiting and calling for appropriate, biblical repentance.

In Acts 26 Paul is speaking in front of King Agrippa and brings up the issue of repentance. He addresses it at the end of his own testimony about how God had changed the direction of Paul’s life on a road to Damascus. Paul tells Agrippa that he (Paul) was convinced it was his mission to stop the spread of those who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Paul encountered the Lord Jesus who sent him on a journey with a mission in the exact opposite direction – to preach Jesus as Savior and spread the Good News of Christ. Paul explains what he’s been preaching to both Jewish and Gentile communities in verse 20. “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” So, yes, there are actions to follow repentance. Repentance is “to turn around” or “change your mind” regarding your sin. There should be some evidence of that internal change.

Paul explained the appropriate process of repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:10. He explains that he didn’t intend to attack or harm anyone when he corrected them. He was encouraged to see that his letter hadn’t left them wounded and crying because Paul was unhappy with them; but, rather that it triggered in them an understanding that led to appropriate guilt about what they’d been doing. The sorrow of that guilt led to repentance and change. He said, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” True, godly repentance doesn’t lead to a lifetime of guilt and regret. It allows you to receive forgiveness and be restored to fellowship with God and others.

Here are some sample Statements of Genuine Repentance provided as examples by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas in their book, The Five Languages of Apology. [Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2006), 88.]

◦I know that my behavior was very painful to you. I don’t ever want to do that again. I’m open to any ideas you have on how I might change my behavior.

◦How could I say that in a different way that would not come across as critical?

◦I know that what I am doing is not helpful. What would you like to see me change that would make this better for you?

◦I really do want to change. I know I’m not going to be perfect, but I really want to try to change this behavior. Would you be willing to remind me if I revert to my old patterns? Just say “relapse.” I think that will help me to stop and change my direction.

◦I let you down by making the same mistake again. What would it take for you to begin to rebuild your trust in me?

◦This is such a long-term pattern for me. While I want to change, I know it will be hard, and I may fail, hurting you again along the way. I would really appreciate it if you would help me think about a way to help my changes stick and encourage me when you see me doing things that help. Can I count on you to be my teammate in this?

Are you continually repeating the same patterns, or have you engaged in genuine repentance? Do you have a clear record right now between you and God; you and other people? If not, please spend a few minutes engaging your heart in a dialogue with God about that sin you’ve held onto. Do you really want to change or just “get away” with your sin? If you regularly engage in this process and feel you’re in good standing with God right now, take some moments to look deeper for the fruit of repentance in your life.

When looking for evidence that repentance has taken hold in your heart, there are some things you should find. Paul listed them in the next verse (11) in 2 Corinthians 7 – v.11 “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

I hope and pray that we live lives of innocence, free of sin. It is great to be free of a guilty conscience and loosed to pursue God’s perfect will in every area. That’s the fruit of godly sorrow and repentance. Don’t be afraid of repentance, but embrace the joy and freedom that comes from having a “clean slate” in front of God.

The Unexamined Life and All…

Jeff

You can get a copy of the book mentioned above at this link: CLICK HERE

Posted: August 2, 2011 
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Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Jeff, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual
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